KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — ViiV Healthcare and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) announced a new agreement that allows generic manufacturers to provide lower-cost versions of Tivicay, a key AIDS drug, to Malaysia and three other upper-middle income countries.
STAT reported that the voluntary licensing agreement would cut existing pricing for the dolutegravir (DTG)-based regimens by 50 per cent to 70 per cent, after Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Kazakhstan protested at their exclusion from a 2014 licensing agreement that covered dozens of lower- and middle income countries. Malaysia is classified by the World Bank as an upper middle income nation.
“This new and first-of-its-kind agreement with ViiV Healthcare, that is specifically aimed at increasing access in these upper-middle-income countries, will mean that people living with HIV in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Malaysia will now have greater access to affordable and quality WHO-recommended dolutegravir-based treatment regimens,” MPP executive director Charles Gore said in a statement.
MPP is a United Nations-backed nonprofit that acts like a broker between national governments and the global pharmaceutical industry.
According to STAT, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Kazakhstan had argued that current pricing for Tivicay, which is effective as a stand-alone treatment and also in combination with other HIV drugs to different degrees, prevented treatment for many patients.
The recent price for Tivicay in those four countries was reportedly between US$1,800 (RM7,345) and US$2,160 (RM8,814) per patient annually, STAT reported an MPP spokeswoman as saying. During talks, a temporary price of between US$1,200 (RM4,897) and US$1,300 (RM5,305) per patient was offered, but a specific price for the first-line and second-line HIV treatment has not yet been set.
ViiV holds patents to Tivicay in Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The global specialist HIV company is majority-owned by GSK, with shareholders Pfizer Inc and Shionogi Limited.
Dr Meg Doherty, director of Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes at the World Health Organization (WHO), said in a statement: “WHO recommends the use of dolutegravir (DTG) as part of the preferred first-line and second-line regimen for people living with HIV, including pregnant women and those of childbearing potential.”
ViiV and MPP said they would work closely with governments and selected generic manufacturers to make the generic DTG-based treatments available as soon as possible in the four countries.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said with the new agreement, Malaysia would be able to provide more affordable versions of essential medicines to people living with HIV.
“We hope the competition between generic manufacturers enabled by this licence, will bring to our market quality medicines at significantly lower price. We hope that with this agreement it will open up more doors for Malaysia in the future to gain rapid access to lifesaving treatment medicine.”